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Enslaved - Vertebrae CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.07 | 133 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A flawed album that still manages to capture some of the magic of 2004's near- perfect "Isa".

In "Vertebrae", ENSLAVED all but eliminate all traces of black metal sound from their music. Sure, the vocals are still high-pitched guttural growls in the style of the most evil of metal genres, but that's about the only element that regularly reminds us of the ENSLAVED of "Frost" or "Vikingligr Veldi". The music, in general, has taken a more contemporary- melodic-extreme-metal approach, with slower songs, less emphasis in blast beats and tremolo riffs, a little bit less of that dark atmosphere typical of the genre, and a crystal-clear production (that the band had started adopting long ago anyway). The violence is still there, but now it is much more tamed, much less in-your-face.

ENSLAVED, though, has learned to really rock. The Norwegian band, in their best moments in "Vertebrae", delivers powerfull riffs with a lot of groove and kinetic energy in a way that they weren't used to in the past. Mixing that with their typical progressive elements, like the use of keyboards and special structures, makes for a very interesting kind of metal, less black, less menacing, but also a little bit more contagious.

The songs are a little simpler than in the previous albums, with a stronger emphasis put on melody and actually sung vocals, bringing the band closer to Swedish-style death metal than to the Norwegian black-metal roots of their past. Clean vocals are used much more frequently now, and it's common for choruses to be doubled in a style somewhat reminiscent of the machine-like voices of CYNIC's "Focus", though in a much more natural, human-sounding way. This creates a nice balance of chaos and melody, and brings the music of the quintet a step closer to more experimental, post-metal-like styles of extreme music.

There are a few less-than great songs in the album but also there's a few that really stand out. My two favorites are two of the most "rocking" ones, "Clouds", with its fantastic quasi- electronic intro, and "Relections", with an amazing riff that moves forward with the energy of thunder, balanced with short slower-tempo sections with a fantastic use of the cymbals by the drummer.

All in all, a very good album that comes highly recommended. Still not in the same league as "Isa", but then again, very few extreme-metal albums are.

The T | 5/5 |


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